If this is your first visit to my blog, you probably noticed its been nearly a year since my last blog post. There are a couple of reasons for that. 1) I simply haven’t had time between agency life, family and other ventures I’m involved in and 2) I was starting to realize how big of an echo chamber the SEO industry and its blogsophere had become. It felt like everyone was talking, but no one was saying anything new and the only way to make it new was to sensationalize even the smallest industry updates. If you don’t believe me you should have seen my inbox after Jennifer Slegg released her Google Panda Guide and all the emails promoting posts, webinars, and the like that were going to school me on the “new” Panda algorithm. It’s this kind of behavior that changed not only my blogging habits, but the kinds of blogs I would read.
You see, prior to the change I was spending upwards of two hours a day on industry blog reading. I would skim some of it, ignore most of it, but ultimately wouldn’t get much out of it. Since the release of Panda and Penguin, I believe the SEO world has hit a bit of a plateau. People aren’t sharing their little gimmicks and tricks to game the system, but instead are sharing their believed methods on how to survive/recover from these algorithms. When they’re not blogging about Google’s algorithm zoo, they’re rehashing best practices, peppering in some new tools and how to use them, and when they’re really lucky they see a change from Google and sensationalize the hell out of it. Most of it isn’t useful and when it comes down to it is just the same thing rewritten with someone’s personal spin. I was so tired of industry content I wiped out most of my SEO feed and took a step back and asked, “What else could you be reading that can make you a better SEO?”
You won’t find the answer in the SEO blogosphere. It’s found in the places that inspire you. The places that generate new ideas, encourage self development, and open your mind to new approaches to what you do. To find these I looked to parallel disciplines, I looked at creative outlets, and what I found was enlightening, educational, inspiring and best of all didn’t feel like I was reading the same blog post on 50 different sites. Here are just some of the places that I’ve started finding content that has really made me a better, more creative SEO.
Co.Create is a Fast Company blog that features content around creativity in advertising, entertainment, and technology. If you follow me on Twitter, this is likely a site you see me tweet from quite a bit. While much of their content is curated from around the web, they also feature a number of original pieces and interviews that as a digital marketer or SEO you’ll find inspiring. What I like most about their posts is that they are quick and easy to digest, but are always on fun and engaging topics. Some of my recent favorites include:
If you’re not familiar with Crew, they are a company that connects people who have a website, app or design idea with professional freelancers that can help them get the job done. I’ve never used the service, but from time to time I had come across their content online and started following their blog. What I love about their blog is that they aren’t pushing their service or their industry, instead they share practical tips and information that can apply to any business professional or marketer. To get a feel for their content, I would highly recommend checking out their recap of their most read articles of 2015.
Digiday is a daily publication that explores all things digital marketing and media. The publication explores trends in the industry and looks at different channels and mediums brands are using online to market to their customers. What I like about Digiday is that it gives you a pulse of what’s happening in the digital marketing world. It can generate inspiration, or just keep you in the know in regards to what other brands and agencies are doing. Recently I enjoyed:
I don’t remember how I stumbled upon PSFK, but the site is designed for creative professionals to help them better understand the future of pretty much everything. Topics range from advertising and design to food, travel, and culture. What I enjoy about PSFK is that they often feature or discuss things that are up and coming, oftentimes it’s a Kickstarter item or a new technology that hasn’t been fully adapted yet. It really gets you thinking about what could be and where things are headed. I don’t necessarily have any recent favorites from PSFK, but this is definitely a site I am checking daily. The only downside is that they appear to have implemented a bit of a paywall, so you can only view so many articles a month without subscribing.
Another digital marketing focused publication, Momentology is a strategy focused publication aimed at more advanced digital marketers. Another great resource for inspiration and trends, Momentology features original content aimed at helping seasoned marketers “be visible and persuasive in the moments that really matter.” Some of my recent favorites are:
Don’t let the listicle style titles deter you, I promise the content is more engaging than the titles may lead you to believe.
Clearly inspired by my Day in the Life of an SEO series that ended after just one post, featuring Portent’s Ian Lurie, My Mourning Routine explores the morning habits of various personalities in an effort to inspire others to have more productive enjoyable days. The people featured each week run the gamut from CEO’s and entrepreneur’s to writers and artists, and while I can rarely relate to these self employed movers and shakers I always find their routines fascinating. This site is more about personal inspiration and how I can better myself as a person, which I hope can carry over into my marketing career. SEO’s will appreciate that the site recently featured Moz’s Rand Fishkin
A digital magazine published by the makers of Contently, The Content Strategist focuses on all things content and content marketing. What I like most about The Content Strategist is that they feature a lot of diverse content ranging from content marketing trends and best practices to examples and insights from around the industry. Again, this is a publication where I don’t necesarily have any recent favorites, but it’s a site a read and watch for new content from regularly.
Though focused primarily on social media and content marketing, the Convince and Convert blog features a wide array of content that can be leveraged both for education as well as inspiration. The blog features a lot of ideas and concepts that can be explored by content marketers or organizations thinking of creating content while providing examples and insights into some of the latest industry trends.
I put Buffer last because I felt it was one that most people were already familiar with, though it happens to be one of my favorites on this list. Buffer, for those who may not know, is a tool that allows you to schedule out your social media content over time. It’s a great tool for curating and sharing content that may be of interest to your readers and one I highly recommend. That said, the tool isn’t why I love the Buffer blog. The Buffer blog is a great place for getting new insights and ideas related to social media. The blog will feature information on the latest trends in social, but they also feature examples of how businesses are leveraging social media. Buffer is also good at curating lists that will be of use to your business when it comes to social media. A post I still return to on a regular basis is their extensive list of free image sources. Some other, more recent posts I enjoyed include:
While SEO blogs are still important to keep up on industry trends and happenings, I am reading fewer and fewer these days. You see I believe that once you’ve mastered the basic concepts of SEO and have built a strong foundation for your SEO efforts, the thing that is going to propel you even further is your creativity and your ability to think beyond just the realm of SEO. That’s not to say there aren’t new skills that will come along; schema continues to see new applications, and mobile and app indexation continues to evolve, but these are foundational concepts. Once in place they are only going to take you so far. Once these are mastered or in place your creativity is what will take you to the next level. Creative content or ideas can drive visitors, links, social visibility, brand awareness and much more. Hopefully some of you found something new to inspire you in this post.
What inspires you to be a better SEO? Share your ideas in the comments!